In the remote, dreary Jutland coasts of 19th-century Denmark, a pair of spinster sisters took in a Parisian woman named Babette as their housekeeper, even though they could not afford to pay her. For the next fourteen years, Babette cooked the bland meals demanded by the sisters’ late father, whose strict religious beliefs they still followed.
Then, one day, Babette won the lottery. But instead of going back to Paris, she spent it all making the most lavish feast the sisters and their fellow believers had ever seen. Course after course of the most exotic delicacies were served on the most beautiful china. As the feast progressed, its sensual pleasures overwhelmed even the most hardened souls, as the diners reconnected with each other, forgave old sins, and re-kindled long lost loves.
Finally Babette reveals that she was once the head chef of the famed Cafe Anglais in Paris. The sisters were horrified! Babette had spent her last cent on them and could not go back to her glamorous life again. They sob that she would be poor for the rest of her life. But Babette tells them, “an artist is never poor.”
This novel by Karen Blixen, of Out of Africa fame, was made into a movie in 1987 and became an instant classic. It won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film, a Cannes Film Festival award, and a Belgian Grand Prix. Even Pope Francis mentioned it as his favorite film in a New York Times interview.
Recently, one of our clients from Brazil recreated this very film after some serious research and shared her photos with us. Her table is spectacular:
The first course, blinis demidoff:
Followed by a salad:
A potage a la tortue:
The main course, cailles en sarcophage:
And of course, dessert! The savarin au rhum:
And to make it a really special occasion, beautifully dressed guests at the party!
Did you recognize Haviland’s Imperatrice Eugenie dinnerware on the table? This is the same pattern Babette ordered from France for her feast and is especially appropriate to the story, since the Cafe Anglais was one of the greatest restaurants during the Second Empire, when Empress Eugenie and Emperor Napoleon III were at the height of their power.
We hope this will help you celebrate your Thanksgiving. Remember to be grateful for the kindness of others and enjoy the pleasures of good food, good friends, and loved ones. Don’t forget to share your special celebration with us — just write us or instagram us with #graciousstyle.
And thank you, Renata, for having shared these stunning images with us.